LONDON - Malaysia's political stability and continuity in the government have been given the thumbs up by British companies vying to invest in the country.
A seminar organised by BAE Systems, SME Corp Malaysia, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and UK Trade and Investment Organisation two days ago with the objective of encouraging UK SME's to set up business in Malaysia, saw a burgeoning interest from British companies, especially in the field of aerospace.
Previous seminars had proved successful in encouraging five UK companies to invest and set up business in Malaysia in the last 12-18 months.
According to Andy Latham, campaign director for Malaysia Typhoon, Military Air & Information, BAE Systems, it was important that the results of the recent general election provided stability.
"I think stability is welcomed by businesses and so we look forward to working with Malaysia," he said.
BAE Systems is a global defence, aerospace and security company which had been working in Malaysia for more than 25 years with Malaysian companies, MIDA and SME Corp.
Latham said it was the objective of the seminar to make British companies more aware of Malaysia as a market and the opportunities available there.
BAE, which is leading a campaign in Malaysia to sell Eurofighter Typhoon, is already working with the Malaysian armed forces, providing them with Hawk aircraft as well as frigates and armoured vehicles.
"In some ways, what makes us unique is that those products are being provided through partnerships with Malaysians. We have had a good response and we expect, as a result of today's session, for more companies to do business in Malaysia."
Anthony Bedborough, CEO of Strand Engineering, a British company which incorporates Stress Analysis and Design Engineering Ltd in the UK and Strand Aerospace Malaysia Sdn Bhd (SAM) in Malaysia, said it was Malaysia's political stability that came out tops when the company was researching whether to do business in the region.
"When I came to Malaysia, I looked at the region's economic and political stability and Malaysia came up tops. I can't move my business into the region without that being in place. Today, it is massive compared with when it first started with only five engineers. Now, we have 116 engineers."
Bedborough said the key to investing in Malaysia was the human capital and engineering capabilities of the country to develop engineers for the aerospace industry.
"For the future of the business, it has to be a local business, and it has to be seen as a local business for the individual and the wider community. It is the right thing to do. We wanted to create a catalyst for it to happen. To date, there is good growth. The future growth is real and exciting. It's creating a reputation and platform to sell yourself as a business. Malaysia already has strong aerospace capabilities. What we are trying to do is add to the dimension of engineering services."
Bedborough said Strand showed a good example in encouraging UK SMEs to engage in Malaysia. Strand acts as their gateway into the country.
"Strand Aerospace Malaysia can offer these companies a future in aerospace engineering through our human capital development," he added.
Speaking at the seminar was SME Corp CEO Datuk Hafsah Hashim, who outlined Malaysia's economic landscape.
"I spoke about how we would chart the direction of our SMEs towards 2020 as per our SME master plan and how we are actually able to rate our SMEs and evaluate their performance. We gained a lot of interest from the participants on what Malaysia does to develop its SMEs."
On the recent general election, she noted that continuity was important.
"It is about how to progress forward with the present government, working within the current policy, and with the programmes that we have in place."